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MU fraternities ask for more time to install fire sprinkler systems

Two University of Missouri fraternities asked the Columbia City Council for more time to install fire sprinkler systems.

In 2009, the city put a new law into effect stating all fraternities and sororities in the city must have fire sprinkler systems, Brad Fraizer with the Columbia Fire Department said.

That year, six Greek houses asked for an extension to install the sprinklers. The deadline for those six houses is March 16, 2016. Last Monday, representatives from Sigma Nu and Delta Tau Delta asked the city council for more time.

Delta Tau Delta House Corporation President Breck Anderson asked the city council for three more years. The fraternity is working to raise $3 million to build a new house, he said.

“The house is 55 years old I think and a little outdated, Anderson said. “The maintenance of keeping that house up is going to be far more expensive over the next 15-20 years than building a new one.”

Installing a new sprinkler system in Delta Tau Delta would cost about $150,000 to $350,000, which would set back the timeline of building a new house even more, Anderson said. But board members are looking at other options to keep fraternity members safe.

“We’re looking at what it would cost us, and obviously it would be far less to implement a system in the kitchen,” Anderson said. “But the bottom line is we’re concerned about their safety, absolutely.”

Sigma Nu also asked for an extension until the the end of the 2016 spring semester. The current house is set to be demolished after the spring semester, and construction of a new house will start Fall 2016, Sigma Nu House Corporation President Doug Hacker. Adding a new sprinkler system to the existing house would just act as a band-aid on an aging house with multiple issues, Hacker said.

“Building materials now are fire retardant,” Hacker said. “It just didn’t exist when the house was built. And for us to just put in a sprinkler system, we thought at least, we were doing a disservice to our undergraduates. And felt like if we were really going to keep them safe, we really needed to put a whole new structure together for them.”

Other Greek Houses that must come into compliance by March 16 include Kappa Alpha, Theta Chi, Lambda Chi Alpha and Acacia, Frazier said.

In 1999, freshman fraternity member Dominic Passantino was killed in a fire in the Sigma Chi fraternity, ten years before the city regulations.

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